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Old 03-09-2010, 08:47 PM   #1
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unusual floor drain backup issue


background ...
vacant home since April, near St Paul, Mn
finally closed on it March 1 for my son, as he got deployed in July
have been in and out of the house for 5 months doing fix-it tickets(mainly exterior) to appease loan requirements - minimum plumbing usage
temp has finally been in the 40's the last week or so
have friends of his living there as caretakers now consistantly using plumbing - toilet, shower, washer, etc
saw water in basement today and floor drain was full/plugged/etc
removed cover and (literally) jabbed down the hole with a sharp stick, thinking it was clogged
went down about 6" and started hitting "something"
few more whacks and water started coming UP!! and it seemed I was chipping ice
so I stopped and got a beer and thought about it
talked to some friends and they said get some heavy duty drain cleaners and pour it down there and was going to go do that but then I started wondering if maybe the problem isn't so much a clog as it may be because the plumbing hasn't been used properly for 9 months
not being a plumber, I guess I don't know if NOT using the plumbing can cause a problem as much as using it too much
so before I proceed I was wondering if any pro's ( or anyone else obviously) had any ideas or answers to the question - could this be due to lack of use over the winter and now because of the thaw it's happening - and, if so, what is the best approach? any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 03-09-2010, 08:55 PM   #2
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unusual floor drain backup issue


If it's a true floor drain it should have a p-trap below. 6" could be your p-trap.

Floor drains also require trap primers. Is it possible the amount of water coming up could have been the trap primer filling the trap? Otherwise if the plumbing is not being used, where is the water coming from?

As far as the clog, non-use shouldn't cause an issue, in fact it should be less issue since water isn't flowing through it, the roots don't have a place to pull nutrients from if there happens to be a break or loose fitting.

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Old 03-09-2010, 09:20 PM   #3
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unusual floor drain backup issue


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan View Post
If it's a true floor drain it should have a p-trap below. 6" could be your p-trap.

Floor drains also require trap primers. Is it possible the amount of water coming up could have been the trap primer filling the trap? Otherwise if the plumbing is not being used, where is the water coming from?

As far as the clog, non-use shouldn't cause an issue, in fact it should be less issue since water isn't flowing through it, the roots don't have a place to pull nutrients from if there happens to be a break or loose fitting.
Obviously, the water inside the drain is not merely from the trap. The OP says that there was (backup) water on the floor. It could simply be that the (storm) drain is clogged. A good workout with a power snake could clear up the problem. If the problem recurs within six Months, regardless of usage, the problem might be due to roots growing inside the drain pipe!!
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Old 03-09-2010, 09:42 PM   #4
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unusual floor drain backup issue


We are in the middle of a spring thaw in Michigan. one of the many common problems with basements show up at this time, it could be storm sewer or sanitary sewer. First remove both cleanout caps to see if they are holding water. if the water level is the same as the water in the basement the clog is outside. if the water level is below the level of water in the basement it is probably the water in the trap. the clog is inside.

Could have two traps or one trap and a straight push. you are way past the point that acid can help. needs to be cabled. Be careful the cable machines can be/are dangerous
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Old 03-10-2010, 10:48 AM   #5
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unusual floor drain backup issue


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Originally Posted by plumberinlaw View Post
We are in the middle of a spring thaw in Michigan. one of the many common problems with basements show up at this time, it could be storm sewer or sanitary sewer. First remove both cleanout caps to see if they are holding water. if the water level is the same as the water in the basement the clog is outside. if the water level is below the level of water in the basement it is probably the water in the trap. the clog is inside.

Could have two traps or one trap and a straight push. you are way past the point that acid can help. needs to be cabled. Be careful the cable machines can be/are dangerous
They're dangerous but effective. Anyone handling a "Snake" is presumed to be qualified to handle it. Acid, even in the cases where it's used can (and does) eat away at the pipes and can cause big-time headaches!!
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